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How to Write and Format an Essay Response With Citations


Formatting an essay can be more frustrating than writing it. Words, sentences, paragraphs and citations must be arranged to provide cleanliness and uniformity, allowing the content of the paper to speak for itself. An essay response is laid out with an introduction, body and conclusion, separated into paragraphs. A good response also quotes the sources it responds to, especially when asked to agree, disagree or reflect. To write an essay response with citations, use straightforward formatting, in-text citations, and a Works Cited page.

Type your essay on a computer using word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Apple Pages.

Set font as 12 point Times New Roman, Helvetica, or another simple font that clearly distinguishes between regular and italicized text.

Type your name, your professor's name, the course name and the date in the upper left corner.

Type and center the title of your essay. Leave it otherwise unformatted. Do not place it in quotation marks, bold, italicize; and do not make it larger than the rest of your text.

Double space between the title and the first line of your essay. Double space your essay text, including the names and date in the upper left corner. Click "Format" on your word processing toolbar. Click "Spacing." Select "2.0" to double space.

Set all four margins to one inch. Most word processors have one inch margins as the default setting. To change them, click "Format" on your toolbar. Click "Text." Click "Margins." Type "1.0" in the provided spaces, to set one inch margins.

Leave one space after all periods and punctuation marks.

Number pages in the upper right corner. Click "Insert" on your toolbar. Click "Page Number." Choose header at upper right corner. This may be worded differently depending on your word processor.

Include the name of the person being referenced and the general idea when citing without quoting particular words. For example, write "John Smith believed the studies were irrelevant but Kyle Jones proved him wrong," without the quotation marks.

Type the author's last name, and the page number in parentheses, at a natural break, such as a period, when quoting particular words. Use no punctuation. For example, type "He argued by saying 'All things can be proven through the scientific method.' (Smith 24)." If you use the author's last name in the sentence, omit the last name, and just write the page number in parentheses.

Omit quotation marks and indent the entire quote if it exceeds four lines in your paper. Indent one inch from your left margin with the "Tab" button. Put the reference directly after the quote. Use parentheses as you normally would.

Create a "Works Cited" page that is separate from the rest of your paper. Entitle it "Works Cited." Center the title, but leave it otherwise unformatted.

Arrange list of authors in alphabetical order using the authors' last names. Use the authors' full names, including all initials. Omit degrees and courtesy titles.

Italicize the title of a source, if it is a book, play, film, newspaper, journal, magazine, pamphlet, website or independently published work. Place quotation marks around the title of something published in a larger work ,or if it is unpublished.

Write citations in the order of author's name, title of work quoted, city book was published in, simplified name of publishing company, year published, and medium. Separate each part with a period. For example, write "Smith, John. Applying the Scientific Method. San Francisco: Norton, 1998. Print." Use the MLA citation guide for special circumstances, such as works with no or multiple authors, or no page numbers.

Write citations from the web with supplementary information. Include the name of the website, the title of the work, the title overall, version or edition used, publisher of site, date of publication, medium of publication and date of access. For example, write "Scienceandmore.com: Arguments about the Scientific Method. Scienceandmore.com, 1998. Web. 7 Feb. 2011."

Include endnotes on a separate page from your essay and your works cited. Entitle the page "Notes." Center the title. Leave it otherwise unformatted.

Print your essay on standard white computer paper that is 8.5 by 11 inches.

About the Author

Michael Monet has been writing professionally since 2006. At the San Francisco School of the Arts, he studied under writers Octavio Solis and Michelle Tea, performed his work in Bay Area theaters and was published in literary journals such as "Paradox," "Umlaut" and "Transfer." Monet also studied creative writing at Eugene Lang College in New York and Mills College in Oakland.

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